McClaney murder trial begins

Published 9:50 pm Monday, August 11, 2014

Messener Photo / April Garon McClaney’s trial began Monday at the Pike County Court House. He is charged with three counts of capital murder in connection with the April 2011 deaths of Mark Adams and Carla Smilie.

Messener Photo / April Garon
McClaney’s trial began Monday at the Pike County Court House. He is charged with three counts of capital murder in connection with the April 2011 deaths of Mark Adams and Carla Smilie.

Prosecutors presented nearly 30 pieces of evidence Monday as Marquisse Rashad McClaney’s murder trial got underway.

McClaney, of Troy, is charged with capital murder in the April 2011 deaths of Carla Leanna Smilie and Mark Adams. The pair was discovered shot to death at Adams’ residence in Needmore on April 5, 2011.

McClaney is one of four defendants charged in the crime. John Contrel Foster and Troy Cantrell McClaney have pleaded guilty and Brandon Jamal Ryles is awaiting his trial.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Evidence presented Monday include crime scene photographs of Adams’ residence as well as photographs of the locations where the stolen property from Adams’ home was located. Also submitted for evidence in the case’s first day, was an audio disc from McClaney’s first and second statements made to the Troy Police Department.

According to the opening statements made by both the prosecutor and the defense in Monday’s session of court, Adams and Smilie were found dead at Adams’ residence on April 5, 2011 after Adams’ landlord, Linda Blake, went to check on her dog, Gator, that Adams’ had been watching.

Police investigating the crime arrested the four men nearly three days later.

Troy Police Department Lt. Lee Barnes was the first to interview McLaney and audio of the interviews was played as part of the evidence. Barnes conducted the interviews at 12:15 a.m. and at 3:36 a.m. on April 8, 2011. The recordings revealed discrepancies between the statements.

McClaney originally stated that the four men had been together on the day of the murders. He said they had not made a stop after leaving a gas station on U.S. Highway 231. However, in McClaney’s second statement, after being asked again by Barnes where Foster, Troy McClaney and Ryles had driven once leaving the gas station, McClaney explained the four had driven to a residence out in Needmore saying the residence was “somewhere in the woods.”

The residence was later identified as Adams’ home and McClaney went on to explain what occurred in the residence during his second statement, which had been played for the jurors and those seated in the courtroom. McClaney divulged information in his statement for Troy Police Department that placed him on scene and inside of the residence at the time of the incident.

Following Anderson’s questioning of Barnes, defense attorney Jay Taylor asked Barnes if McClaney challenged whether or not McLaney was in the house at the time of the shootings. He asked Barnes if McLaney could have seen the table where Smilie was sitting prior to her death.

Barnes said from his point of view while entering the residence during the investigation, McClaney “might” have been able to see Smilie. Taylor rephrased the question and asked Barnes again. Barnes responded saying according to McClaney’s statement he had placed himself inside of the residence, but just long enough to hear a gun shot. After hearing the gunshot, McClaney said he ran from the residence adding, “I got scared.”

Taylor asked Barnes about the allignment of the entryway to the residence and where Smilie was seated. Barnes responded to Taylor saying McClaney had placed himself at the scene, and then removed himself saying he fled to the porch after hearing the gunshots. Taylor again asked Barnes about the vantage point. Barnes responded saying, “that’s not what I’m saying. That is what you’re defendant was saying,” after being questioned again about whether McClaney could have seen the table.

Monday’s session ended with the testimony of Mike Benak, a forensic scientist from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Auburn, who was discussing DNA evidence found at the crime scene.

McClaney is charged with three counts of capital murder. Counts one and two are for the act of murder committed in the course of robbery with each count representing a single victim. The third count of capital murder was added for the murder of one or more persons in the course of one act.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today in the Pike County Circuit Court, with Judge Thomas Head presiding.